Pursue Your Dreams

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Anne Ashby sharing the highlights of her childhood, an impressive career in the Navy, and the unexpected third act that followed.

Here’s Anne!

anneashbyI’m not sure if I’m in a second or third act. Looking back over my life I could divide it into more acts but I figure many of those are of minor significance.

Act One

Where to begin? My childhood seemed uneventful at the time, pretty boring by today’s standards or so my little grandchildren think. I mean, growing up in a tiny coastal town of less than 50 people, without television, computers, mobile phones, how did we survive? Although widowed when I was two, my mother provided my sister, brother and myself with a great life. We never had much money but she set us on our pathway to adulthood with many important guidelines. She gave us morals to live by, showed us hard work never hurt anyone and confirmed every day by her actions that excessive money and possessions aren’t necessary to enjoy life. She shared her great sense of humour, her love of books and her determination to explore all she could of our beautiful country. And so many more things I am grateful for. Looking back now, I regret my own children had to grow up in a world so different from my ‘deprived’ one.

I was a very shy, quiet kid and was very content at home, especially as my brother and sister had both moved into Invercargill (our equivalent of the big city back then) for work by the time I was twelve. Looking back I cannot believe where I found the courage to take the huge step which lead me away from home and everything I knew. Probably my mother’s confidence in my ability to be and do whatever I decided I wanted to.

Act Two

At eighteen, my Act Two began. I joined the Royal New Zealand Navy. This involved my travelling to almost the other end of the country. For years I had dreamed of joining the police force but needed to be twenty. Three years (minimum engagement at that time) in the Armed Forces was one of the suggested options to gain necessary life experience prior to joining the police. Looking at the three services, Navy was the only option for me. I’m a Pisces, I grew up in and around the sea and feel it is part of who I am. (I still live within walking distance of the coast). My determination to leave the Navy and join the police soon waned. By the time my initial engagement time would have been up, I was serving a two year posting in Singapore, I was engaged to a sailor and I loved the Navy way of life. Unless a person has served in the Armed Services, I doubt they can understand the impact this service time has on your life. The Navy is particularly bonding. There is a new language to learn, new ways to tackle tasks, and a dependence on each other that builds a comradeship that is in place for life.

I’m currently the National President of the Naval Women’s Association. We had a reunion last month. Seeing World War Two service women, who are now in their nineties mixing with other service women, many strangers, from all the decades since, clearly shows the bonding we all still feel toward each other. I spent 21 years in the Navy. I served in every ship available to me – this was prior to women serving at sea as they do now – and retired as a Warrant Officer, the top of my trade. I had two children while serving, and only left because I wanted to experience the joys of motherhood completely.

Luncheon on HMNZS Endeavour - November 2014  (I'm in the back row, far right)

Luncheon on HMNZS Endeavour – November 2014
(I’m in the back row, second from the right)

Act Three

What I consider to be my Act Three began some years and two more children later. My eldest, then at university, regularly informed me I was allowing my brain to stagnate and knowing of my interest, kept suggesting I attend creative writing classes. I baulked at these, believing, rightly or wrongly, they were geared toward literary works not the writing of popular fiction. I knew where my interest lay, not only with popular fiction, but even more clearly defined, contemporary romance.

My husband was attached to the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC for two years and it was during this period I spied an evening course at the local college. “How to Write a Romance” sounded perfect and was exactly what I wanted to do. Then began the rigmarole of trying to get enrolled – living in the US without benefit of a social security number caused us so many hassles during our two years, and I feared this would be something else which would prove to be just too difficult. Thankfully this wasn’t one of those times and I began my writing journey with very small, faltering steps.

The instructor, Harlequin writer Loree Lough, was marvellous and became more than a mentor to me. We are still in touch, although not so often now as during my stumbling years toward publication. During the ten (I think) week course, Loree continued to share her expertise and offered to read work any of the students had completed. My idea of a New Zealand woman visiting Maryland quickly developed into a story which I wrote diligently throughout the period of the course, but the nerve to ask Loree to read it kept deserting me. Finally, on the last night I realised if I didn’t ask her then, I would likely never see her again, never have such an opportunity to have a professional give an opinion of my writing, and so yep, I hung around until everyone else had left and quaking in my boots, approached this multi-published writer to ask her to read my completed manuscript.

I grasped at her willingness to read the 85,000 word story, agreeing she could do anything, suggest anything, say anything in response and I would be so grateful. About a week later I got a phone call and went around to her house so she could return my “baby” to me. My heart sank. The pages were splashed everywhere by red scrawled symbols and crossed out portions. She had not just read it and been willing to give an opinion, she had edited the whole story. So we sat in her dining room and Loree went through the whole book with me. She queried passages, pointed out the things I’d done wrong, made suggestions to tighten some scenes. She spent ages encouraging me, then assured me this story would find a publisher. Those words stayed with me all the years it took to get numerous proposals, partials and full manuscripts snail mailed around the world once I returned home to New Zealand. I figured Loree knew so much about writing romance, and if she thought “Worlds Apart” was good enough to be published, I was going to continue believing her. Worlds Apart did finally get published by The Wild Rose Press in 2009 and was dedicated to Loree Lough.

Since then I’ve been writing “full time”. I’ve been fortunate to have a very supportive husband who accepted if he got home and found dinner not ready or the house less than tidy, then I had had a good writing day. My confidence and expertise continues to grow as I attend conference/workshops, along with the ready advice from an excellent editor who has become more of a friend. I keep writing because I cannot imagine not sharing the stories clamouring around inside my head. I’ve been fortunate to have had five books published by The Wild Rose Press and look forward to continuing my association with this amazing company. When I’m not writing or reading, or travelling the world with my recently retired husband, I enjoy spending time with my family, my friends from the Navalwomen’s Association or sorting through my years of genealogy notes. One day, if writing romance ever palls maybe I’ll collate all my family history notes into something readable for those who follow me.

Meeting with longtime editor TWRP's Maggie Johnson in San Diego - May 2014 (I'm on the right)

Meeting with longtime editor TWRP’s Maggie Johnson in San Diego – May 2014
(I’m on the right)

Anne’s Advice

Being at a turning point in your life, be it by your own choice or by circumstances beyond your control, can be a scary and daunting . But fear of change shouldn’t hold you back. Other fears may seem to be insurmountable or even prove to be so, but don’t hold back changing your life because of your own lack of confidence or fear of the unknown.

“Come to the edge, he said.
They said. We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them, and they flew…” Guillaume Apollinaire, French Poet

leathslegacy

Blurb

After years of financial struggle Leath Robson and her brother are ecstatic when they’re willed a property in northern New Zealand. It gives them some much needed/highly sought after security. But who was this old lady who’d left them so much? Leath struggles with guilt when discovering their benefactor had spent her last years in a nursing home.

Kirk Buchanan had left the family farm years ago to make his fortune. Summoned home he’s devastated to find his father suffering from Alzheimers. Hearing his dad likes to visit his childhood home, Kirk resolves to buy the place to ensure his safety. It’s not much but he has to do something.

Unfortunately the property has new owners who keep refusing his generous offers. He must have his father’s birthplace. Obviously a more personal approach is called for.

Buy Links

The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Where to find Anne…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Comment for an opportunity to win a PDF copy of Leath’s Legacy.

Joanne here!

Anne, thank you for sharing so many wonderful moments from your jam-packed life. Best of luck with Leath’s Legacy. If you have a few minutes here and there (highly unlikely, I know!), start that family history. It would be an amazing read!

Adventure to Clarity

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Stephanie Mount sharing her fascinating journey from a career in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to her life’s calling as a Conscious Leadership Coach.

Here’s Stephanie!

stephaniemountMy thirst for learning and adventure began as a child when I would wonder around, be curious and play. As I progressed through life, I became increasingly aware of my deep desire to live a life of exploration and discovery; I set off after university and enjoyed a 14 year career in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; immersing myself in incredibly beautiful close knitted Canadian communities, flying over glaciers in helicopters and watching grizzly bears and humpback whales in their natural habitat. My role as a Police Officer satisfied my desire to connect with people through support, development and showing up authentically. Life presents us with many challenging learning opportunities and mine is no exception, on the 31st July 1995 my world changed forever and I truly believe this was the start of my awakening – I was 28 years old. My core values of passion, empathy, freedom and connection is what led me into community development and adult learning – my world expanded and I have my career and former colleagues in the R.C.M.P. to thank for this unique opportunity. I enjoyed a satisfying career and this continued whilst acquiring a post graduate diploma in adult learning. Into my 30’s, I knew there was something missing, in my work and life. I decided to listen to the calling and my journey of clarity officially began. In summary, I longed for the Canadian Atlantic coast and made the move from west to east, enjoyed a career break, establishing a home and meeting my life partner before setting off on an adventure to the United Kingdom.

Island A

During the early days of my adventure to England, I felt like I was starting from the beginning in relation to my working life; having said that, I was deeply aware that my present life was ‘the something that I longed for’. Throughout this realization process, I began to embrace each moment, accept it, learn from it and let go of life itself. This provided me with a platform to explore and uncover all of my assets (core values, strengths, passions/drivers, skills, knowledge and experience) with a supporter and challenger in chief, my coach. My career as a Learning & Development Manager in the corporate world was exciting and equally enjoyable along this exhilarating journey of discovery, although I noticed my thoughts, feelings, actions and intuition were asking me to awake even more; I felt like I was swimming against the current and it was becoming tiring. I started to listen to myself and pay attention to the signposts and learn from every experience. As I stood on Island A, I could feel the grains of sand under my feet and noticed little green shoots called freedom and purpose on the dunes way off in the distance, a moment of realization appeared that asked me to let go of life and truly explore my most authentic self. I accepted this gift, looking back at Island A with a warm heart and big smile and boarding a gorgeous sailing vessel called Serene Energy on my way to Island B.

Serene Energy journey

Change was in the air; the moment of resolution came to me on Island A when I was feeling anxious, confused and walking around in a fog. I experienced nights when I found it hard to sleep and I knew I wanted to leave what was becoming an inhospitable island in the context of work. On the voyage, there were times the seas were calm and incredibly choppy on occasion which strengthened my resilience muscles and challenged me to lean in and trim my sails to the best of my ability. This quote encouraged me along my journey: “If you choose to be happy and at peace, remember you have control over the sail, not the wind.” I choose to be the Captain of Serene Energy and it was up to me to trim those sails and get the best effect possible from the wind. I accepted the challenge and imagined a future vision: it was to live a life on fire, by honouring my core values, dialling up on my strengths and passions and living an abundant working life through showing up as my most authentic self. This journey of self discovery and leadership unveiled a deeper purpose and gave me the time to explore. This exploration gave birth to my current working life on Island B to which I am deeply indebted; grateful to myself, peers and my dearest husband for giving me the support and space.

Island B

Serene Energy has docked on a beautiful island full of inner riches, lush landscapes and interesting experiences. In keeping with the context of the world of work and leadership, you know when people walk around in a fog, plodding along, doing what they should do instead of what they truly want to do, trapped in a golden cage, putting one foot in front of the other without passion & purpose, feeling there are no choices, not living presently and thriving; there is a solution! I am their Clarity Ally or Conscious Leadership Coach. I champion a client’s greatness and support them in getting clear about who they are, what they want and we design a plan of action, so they live a fulfilling life, full of serene energy, in which a client swims with the flow of the river instead of against it. I work with individuals and leaders in SME’s from the inside out and coaching is the technique to get clients clear and present.

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In addition to my work as a Coach, I partner with heart centred solopreneurs who choose to bring an authentic, visible presence to their social profiles and manage online communities for well known brands.

It is my mission on this glorious Island B to work with as many people as possible that want to live a life on fire, by honouring their core values and thriving as their most authentic self, feeling alive, courageous, resilient and curious. My vision on Island B has come true as I continue to develop, explore and live it for myself and as a mirror for people – a blessing! (Added benefit is experiencing life from the best of both worlds, Canada and England)

Success is….. liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. – MAYA ANGELOU (Amen)

Do you have any advice for anyone pursuing a 2nd act?

Listen to yourself. If you so choose, become curious and present with what you’re noticing and engage with the support that is best suited to you.

Any affirmations you wish to share?

My life is all happening perfectly; live alive in each & every moment. (Part of my daily connection practise)

4 words that describe Steph: Authentic, Empathetic, Intuitive, Playfully action oriented.

Where to find Stephanie….

Position Ignition Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn | Pinterest

Joanne here!

What an inspiring post! Stephanie, thanks for sharing your journey and insights along the way. And Happy Belated Birthday! (It was Stephanie’s birthday yesterday)

Don’t Wait for Permission to Do What You Love

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Lorna Faith sharing lessons and insights from a jam-packed life.

Here’s Lorna!

lornaAct 1

My first act was filled with the adventure of learning new things. Being the youngest child in a family of 11 children, I knew the value of hard work and the freedom of living on a farm. I have many unique memories of growing up in that large Northern B.C. farm. Running to the outhouse in -30 Celsius weather, learning to milk cows and drive tractor as a young child, and riding the calves in the pasture with my neighbourhood friend, Skippy.

A love of singing and playing the piano grew right along with a love of storytelling from the age of 5 years old. I continued exploring that love of creativity, concentrating most of my efforts in singing and piano, through High School and Bible college, where I met my husband. When I graduated, we moved back to his neck of the woods and I soon found myself at the University of Lethbridge where four years later I graduated with a Bachelor of Music.

Our first son was born 5 months before Graduation.The next three children quickly followed. As our children got older I started to give piano and voice lessons again. I still sang at different churches and events for their special music, which was a lot of fun. However after teaching piano and voice lessons for so many years, I really longed for a change.

This longing for change, is what triggered the second act in my life.

Hiking in the Kananaskis Area

Hiking in the Kananaskis Area

Act 2

This stage of my life didn’t really begin until our youngest daughter was in her last year of being homeschooled. We moved to a different community to start a church plant, that was a big change for all six of us.

With so many new things happening in our lives, I felt like it was time for me to shift, so I started blogging and began to write my first Historical Romance novel. This was a story I was passionate about. It was set in 1913 Russia and inspired by my dad’s background as the fourth child of fifteen children, of parents who had escaped the famine in Russia to come to Canada.

However, even though I was inspired to write this story, it was a real fight to finish it. Fear attacked me on so many levels: maybe I wasn’t good enough to be a writer; what if I failed at this; was I too old to start something new? With encouragement from family and friends, I continued to write and finally published my first novel, Answering Annaveta on Mother’s Day in May 2013.

I have continued to write, but the next book in this series has taken a little longer to finish because I’ve done many other things in between.

I completed my Life Coach Certification as well as Social Media Masters training this past year. So now I help other people share their compelling stories with the world, on social media. As well I continue to share the stories I love as I write them. It’s the best of both worlds.

Lorna’s Advice

The best advice and the biggest Aha moment I had was when I read Jeff Goins’ book You Are a Writer. His words Don’t wait for someone to pick you.

Pick yourself, was a light bulb moment for me.

I realized all these years of struggling with fear and insecurity, I had actually been waiting for permission. I had been waiting for that unknown someone, to pick me and confirm that I was a writer.

If you’ve been waiting for permission, let me encourage you to go ahead and pick yourself. Embrace the freedom of who you are.

The following quote inspires me to keep trying new things, takes the pressure off and helps remove the fear of not being good enough. I hope it will do the same for you.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt Disney

So give yourself permission to learn, grow and become all of the amazing you, you were meant be.

AnsweringAnnaveta

Blurb

Annaveta Travotsky, a young girl in 1913 Russia, is poised at the dawn of womanhood.

In the span of a few short weeks, Annaveta finds her world turned upside down. Prevailing over trauma, tragedy and loss she moves on, but the guilt and rejection she carries from past abusive relationships, cause her to struggle with feelings of unworthiness.

Her heart holds her back from receiving the love of the man who longs to protect her.

As her past catches up to her, Annaveta flees to St.Petersburg, a place where she seeks safety. However, unrest in Russia makes the country ripe for an uprising, where terrorist groups like the Black Hand are flourishing. In the middle of this city filled with turmoil and rebellion, Annaveta and Alex discover a murderous plot devised by members of the Black Hand.

When terrorists threaten their lives, she faces a choice: Hold onto the lies of her past or believe in the power of love.

Comment for an opportunity to win 1 of 2 FREE ebooks of Answering Annaveta

Other Publications

“Mom’s Gift to Me” in Christian Fiction Online Magazine

“You’re a Writer. Pick Yourself” in Southern Writer’s Magazine

Bio

Lorna Faith loves all things romantic, historical and filled with adventure. A graduate of the University of Lethbridge with a degree in Music, she teaches students by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She also helps other people tell the stories they love on Social Media. She and her husband have 2 College age children and 2 teenagers and live in Southern Alberta near the Rocky Mountains. Answering Annaveta is her 1st novel… with Book #2 coming in May 2015.

Where to find Lorna…

Lorna Faith Blog | Raw Story Life Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Joanne here!

What a lovely tapestry you’ve woven! Thank you for sharing your journey and best of luck with all your literary endeavours.

From Lawyer to Romance Author

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Stacy Hoff chatting about the childhood dream that has come to fruition.

Here’s Stacy!

Stacey_Cartoon_v2 (2)I am so glad to be on the Second Acts blog! I think the biggest reason this column resonates with me is because I, too, have started the second act of my life.

I had wanted to be a writer ever since I was little. When the time came for me to pick a profession, however, I chose what I thought of as a steadier (and more solvent) career path—law. So I packed up my things and moved to Boston for law school.

As soon as I arrived, however, I started having second thoughts. It was immediately apparent that the creative process I had embraced as an English major undergraduate had no place in the law. Writing became strictly a matter of templates and formula. And although law school was intellectually challenging, it wasn’t emotionally engaging.

The lack of emotional connection was hard for me. Being an only child growing up with a hard working single mom, emotional connections were always something I craved. It’s what had drawn me to English literature in the first place. Within the pages of books I found endless personal interaction. A plethora of people to laugh with, cry with, sympathize with, and appreciate. The prospect of having instant “family” (even if only on paper) enticed me to read as a kid and, frankly, still compels me to write as an adult.

When I was back in law school, the formal and academic environment made me feel like I had no “family” there. No one for me to latch onto. The reason was pretty clear – the legal field doesn’t run to embrace creative types. Unfortunately, the end result back then was to distance myself from my peers, the school, and the career.

Eventually, I did learn to adapt my personality (enough, anyway). It’s now been almost twenty years since I’ve graduated from law school. And yes, I am a lawyer. But just because I have practiced successfully does not mean I want to continue practicing indefinitely. It’s time to start thinking about when I’m going to completely close the curtain on my first act.

For my second act, what I want is to fully embrace my creative self. To have writing at the center of my life. For me, that means writing contemporary romance novels full-time.

Right now, I have one book published, a second under contract, and two other manuscripts underway. Doing all this has not been easy; fiction writing is something I do as a sideline. I write late at night. Early in the mornings. Weekends when I can sneak it in, considering I have to take care of my two boys. It’s an added bonus prize when I can steal some time alone with my husband. Balancing everything isn’t easy.

It’s still way to soon for me to become a writer full-time. My debut novel, DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES, just came out September 17, 2014. That means I’m going to continue balancing for a while. I can tough it out. It’s better to pursue my goal from the sideline than to forfeit the game.

After all, if I quit, my second act would never truly get underway.

desireintheeverglades

Blurb

Stephanie Lang’s successful career as a television producer can’t give her everything she wants out of life. Her personal goals of writing a romance novel and finding true love languish. Emotionally scarred by her fiancé’s affair with her cousin, she doesn’t have the confidence to go after either goal again. At least she has professional confidence to fall back on—she is ready to produce the company’s next hit show. But when her boss reveals what the show is about, a survival documentary starring a sexy, modern version of Crocodile Dundee, Stephanie’s life is turned upside down. Colin Brandt, billed as “The Evergladiator,” will tackle Florida’s Everglades with nothing more than his bare hands and a knife. Stephanie, instantly attracted to handsome, rugged, enigmatic Colin, worries he will not survive his twelve-day odyssey. If he does, he’ll win a million dollars. If he fails, his beloved family’s farm will go into foreclosure. Can Colin conquer the Everglades? And can he conquer her heart?

buynow

Where to find Stacy…

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Joanne here!

Stacy, thank you for sharing your ongoing reinvention story. I enjoyed reading Desire in the Everglades and look forward to your future releases.

Beyond the Classroom

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Hannah Diamond sharing a difficult career decision that sparked a spectacular second act.

Here’s Hannah!

hannahphoto2

I taught 9th grade English at an urban public high school for 10 years. I loved teaching and had planned to teach until I retired. However, the political climate surrounding public schools started to change, and I realized that the career I loved was no longer the same.

Curriculum was centered around test scores, not based on what students need to know for college, life, and future careers. Everything was about test scores. Students were not students anymore; they were “data.” Class sizes were growing, and so were expectations. I was suffering from stress-related illnesses ranging from back pain to chronic sinus infections.

I hated to leave, but I had to do so for my mental and physical health. In 2013, I wasn’t seriously looking for a new job, but an ad on LinkedIn caught my eye. It started out with the line, “Do you love office supplies?” I discovered that a trendy office supply company, UrbanGirl.com, was hiring a marketing and social media professional, and the company was located two miles from my home!

I had not given much thought to what my “second act” would be before this, because I had not planned on switching careers. However, when I read the job descriptions and qualifications, I realized that I was uniquely qualified because the job required writing, photography, editing, and communication skills combined with a love of office supplies. I applied, and to my surprise, I was offered the job.

It was still a difficult decision to make, but I am so glad that I did. My health problems are nearly non-existent now, and I am so much happier. I love that the majority of my work is creative. I write the company blog, emails, and all social media posts. I take photos of the products and design graphics for the website. I am using my English degree in a way I never thought I would, as blogs didn’t even exist when I graduated from college.

hannahphoto1

My advice for anyone planning a big career change is to have confidence and do plenty of research. It was daunting switching to a “techie” career when most people in my new line of work are at least 10 years younger than I am. However, I knew I had the creativity and writing skills to succeed. I also spent time researching my new field, and I continue to learn new things every day.

Where to find Hannah…

Urban Girl Website | Personal Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google +

Joanne here!

Hannah, thank you for sharing your journey. I am certain this post will resonate with teachers, nurses, social workers and others in the “helping professions” who are struggling with that tenuous health/career balance.

Swept Away

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Aprille Janes sharing her creative passions and the challenges that permanently altered the trajectory of her life.

Here’s Aprille!

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Aprille_headshot (2)

Act 1

When we discovered we were expecting in our late twenties, we decided I should work from home. So I took my creative passion and opened an art studio where I taught classes, sold supplies and had the freedom to be a mom to our son. It was so successful that eventually my husband joined me in business when our family grew to include a beautiful little girl. Life seemed just about perfect.

Then — a recession devastated our area as unemployment hit 20%. Disposable income disappeared and luxuries like art classes got cut from budgets. Seemingly overnight our revenue dried up. Luckily, my husband found work in a city two hours away. Off he went while I stayed behind to close that chapter of our lives.

The most difficult moment came when I tearfully closed the door on our home and drove away for the last time. With our two toddlers in the back seat, I watched the house grow smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror until I finally turned the corner at the end of our street.

That corner was both literal and figurative because at that moment I realised just how lucky I was. I had my health and the people I loved. All the rest was just “stuff”.

I learned that letting go makes room for something new. I also learned that when you’re not attached to things, the fear of losing them doesn’t attach itself to you. That gave me enormous freedom in the coming years.

Act 2

Once we were settled, I went back to school. A few years after that I launched a successful consulting practice working on challenging projects, travelling and meeting some amazing people. The work I did was highly valued and life seemed good although I sometimes wondered if there wasn’t something more to it.

Twenty years went by like this and things may have gone on that way indefinitely except that one warm spring day I went out for lunch. It was such a welcome relief after a long winter I decided to walk around the block before returning to the office.

That’s how I found myself standing on the corner of a busy intersection waiting to cross. The light turned green and out of the corner of my eye I saw the car to my left begin to move. My Walk sign lit up and I started across as well.

Suddenly a blare of horns and a violent crash filled my hearing. The car that had been to my left was suddenly shoved right in front of me. I could have reached out and touched it if it hadn’t been moving so fast. Metal and glass flew all around me.

The car that neither of us had noticed, the one that ran the red light, flew past me and up over the center median as it took out the traffic light. The vehicle slid sideways down the road for another 30 feet before it finally stopped, light pole neatly balanced on its roof like the boom on a sailboat.

I don’t remember walking back to the sidewalk, only that I found myself standing there again with a crowd of strangers asking if I was okay. Surprisingly I wasn’t even scratched, as though a force field had sprung up around me in the middle of the chaos.

For days after the quality of light changed and sounds travelled farther. Everything seemed so precious and I wasn’t going to leave this world without honouring my dreams and using my gifts to make a positive difference.

I began choosing the pieces I needed to make it happen.

First, I stopped waiting to write my stories and finally did something about it, even getting some published and winning a few awards. I began painting again and was encouraged to show my work. However, I chose to make art for the joy of it, not as a living.

So I continued my consulting practice for another 3 years while I put the second piece in place, earning my certification as a professional coach and completing a top Leadership program. This provided the keys to unlock my Golden Handcuffs so I could step into the life I envisioned for myself.

Today I earn my living by supporting business women with a passion for positive change. Using my experience and training I help them create and grow successful businesses from that passion. I still write for my own enjoyment and have plans to do more with it in the coming year. I feel there’s a book looking for me to give it life.

Life’s too short not to choose the adventure. After all, safety is only an illusion. I found that out by going out my door on a spring day and getting swept along to my real life.

Bio

Aprille Janes is a sought after speaker, author, podcast host and small business coach. As an experienced business consultant and certified professional coach she helps Bolder Business Women make a difference while they make a living.

Where to find Aprille…

Website | Podcast | Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

Joanne here!

What an inspirational post! Aprille, thanks for sharing your remarkable journey.

Follow Your Passions

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Alma San Roman sharing the challenges and triumphs she encountered on an inspiring journey spanning three countries.

Here’s Alma!

Alma San Roman (2)Act One

Growing up in Mexico, my life was full of challenges. While I didn’t have a horrible life, I felt like a victim of difficult circumstances that I could not transcend.

My childhood was pretty normal for a dysfunctional family. My parents loved me and my two siblings, and they did the best they could with what they knew and had. From an early age, I wanted to be a doctor and help others feel better about themselves and their lives. That changed when I realized I could not stand the sight of blood, nor could I deal with someone in pain. At age sixteen, I had to make up my mind because I was about to start university. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to be.

Back then, my father had a cattle ranch in Veracruz. The expectation was that someone in the family would keep the ranch, but my brothers didn’t want anything to do with it. I assumed the responsibility was mine and that’s how I picked my degree, with a little persuasion from my dad. I became an engineer in agronomy and animal husbandry. Two years before finishing my degree, my dad sold the ranch.

bakerymexicoI lived in Queretaro while going to university and after finishing my thesis, I started a landscaping business with a friend. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, so I moved to Mexico City to live with my grandmother. After taking a baking course, I fell in love with baking. I started my own business, created my own products, and had a great clientele.

Two years later, my dad asked, “When are you going to find a serious job and work on your career?” Like all other parents in Mexico, my dad had covered the cost of my education. I must add that I had a scholarship covering 80% of the tuition in university.

To please my father, I left the bakery and searched for a serious job. And I found the most tedious job I’ve ever had: assistant to the Nutritional Director for a company that made vitamin and mineral supplements for farm animals. The company would offer free diet formulation for the clients. My boss would visit the farms get all the information needed and I would help formulating at the office. I took care of all the paperwork.

After several years at that job, I experienced a traumatic event. I was robbed on my way home while on a public transit bus. Afterward, I felt unsafe and afraid all the time. That fear propelled me to take a risk and accept a friend’s invitation to visit Canada. I had planned to stay for three months, learn English, and then return to Mexico. Seventeen years later, I am still here.

Second Act

Citizenship (2)When I moved to Canada, my sense of safety and freedom dramatically changed: I felt at home. I accepted jobs that I would never have considered back home in Mexico, mainly because I needed the money. I was a waitress, bartender, nanny, banquet server, and banquet supervisor. But I wanted more. One of my coworkers advised me not to be so ambitious. According to him, immigrant life was pretty rough, and we were just supposed to do those jobs. Fortunately, I didn’t believe him and decided to pursue one of my passions: baking.

I went back to college and got certified in the Baking and Pastry Arts program and landed a pretty good job. I worked at Dufflet pastries for seven years as assistant production manager. I was involved all aspects of production: purchasing, inventory control, nutritional labels, human resources, and managing close to 100 staff. I worked ten to twelve hours a day and had to be available for all emergencies.I could completely get away only while on vacation.

I asked myself: Is this really all that life is?

Lacking a firm grip on my emotions, I created a lot of stress in my life and developed TMJ – temporomandibular joint disorder – a condition that affects the jaw, caused by clenching the teeth when sleeping. My body was misaligned and that caused a lot of pain, affecting my physical and emotional health.

Something was definitely missing. While I had been brought up Catholic, I no longer believed in organized religion. Spirituality, however, had always been my core inspiration. I read a few self-help books and then started the practice of meditation. That changed my life in a positive way, awakening a desire to search for something more.

Third Act

After experiencing more pain and stress, I quit my job in 2010 and embarked on a journey of self-discovery. Inspired by a book about an enlightened guru who had lived in India, I traveled there and participated in a month-long “awakening retreat” that expanded my worldview. I learned that we create our reality with our thoughts and feelings, but most importantly, I learned how all the beliefs we carry in our subconscious mind dictate what we actually think, feel and do. I was able to heal all the pain in my body as well as some of the emotional pain I was carrying but didn’t understand. Since then I have read and listened to many different healers. “Healing” is another one of my passions.

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While searching, I stumbled upon The Passion Test. Fascinated, I became a certified PT facilitator. Then I heard about Theta Healing – a technique that access a conscious theta brain wave and then addresses the limiting subconscious beliefs that we have that hold us back from reaching our fullest potential, our most optimal health, and our deepest joy. I found it so interesting that I also got certified as a Theta healing practitioner. When I started using those techniques on myself and family members, the results were amazing. I now have excellent health and I have created the life I always wanted.

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To make money, I joined a couple of MLM companies. There, I was exposed to many successful people and teachers. Even though that was not my path, I am grateful for the change of perspective.

I decided to start my own company: Enlightened Possibilities. My philosophy: We have everything we need to be joyful, happy, healthy and successful. We have just forgotten who we are and how we work. Suffering arises when we believe we are separate from source. That belief and many others keep us from creating the life we really desire and deserve, so is well worth the time to stop and revise our beliefs.

We don’t know what we don’t know. When we know better, we do better and when we do better our life, relationships, work, health, and finances improve.

To conclude, I have followed my passions all along even when I had no idea what I was doing. That has taken me to unique places and experiences. I have all the resources to help me remember who I really am … to go back home.

My next Passion Test Workshop will be on Thursday, December 11.

Email me at alma@almasanrom.com for more details.

Where to find Alma…

Website | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

Joanne here!

Alma, I’m in awe of the courage and persistence you have demonstrated throughout your journey. You are an inspiration to all of us. Muchas gracias!